Condo by-laws & noise...

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Latest post Mon, Jan 12 2009 2:36 AM by anon3. 4 replies.
  • Sun, Jan 11 2009 11:11 AM

    Question [=?] Condo by-laws & noise...

    I'm a condo owner in Ohio that just received this notice from my board officers (see below)... Before you read it, consider my questions:

    1) Can a condo board and association change by-laws like that? It seems to me that when a buyer becomes owner of a condo they do so with the knowledge of pre-existing by-laws. If those laws get changed after buying into something they can't observe, then the buyer/owner is now stuck in a situation where they are suddenly liable.

    2) Isn't it hard to enforce noise ordinances? Isn't there an element of "arbitarary-ness" or randomness involved when an individual claims they are being disturbed by another condo? Don't condo owners buy in with full knowledge they are entering a physical building where uncontrollable noise will occur? So if noise is something they are very sensitive to, they should not buy a condo?

    3) Can a condo board apply a lien like this? It seems arbitrary and non-legally enforceable. As such, a condo board could lien anyone for almost any reason they collectively choose to.

    Thanks in advance for any input/advice... Now here's the notice I've received:

    "NOTICE: After several complaints we have decided to put to vote a policy for the noise level within the condo buildings. To be specific - there have been several instances where guests/visitors have buzzed the wrong unit in the middle in of the night and loud music has been played from 2am - 6am. These actions/behaviors have effected each unit owner within Building A and Building B.

    The association and your neighbors have respectfully asked for everyone to be mindful of their noise levels. Due to the lack of change we are putting the following policy in place:

    Each unit owner is responsible for the noise levels within their unit and the common areas. Unit owners' are responsible for the noise levels and actions of all of their guests/visitors. Quite hours will be defined as 11pm to 7am Sunday thru Thursday and 12:30 am to 9am Friday and Saturday.

    Violations will be subject to the following actions: 1st Violation - a written notice will be sent to the unit owner (regardless of occupancy) 2nd Violation - a written notice and a $250 fine will be sent to the unit owner (regardless of occupancy) 3rd and all Subsequent Violations - a written notice and a $500 fine will be sent to the unit owner (regardless of occupancy).

    All fines will be paid to the Building A & B Condo Association and will be placed in our reserve account for future use. Failure to pay your fine will result in a lien being placed on the title of your unit."
  • Sun, Jan 11 2009 1:58 PM In reply to

    re: Condo by-laws & noise...

    One of the major cornerstones of real estate is for the the use of 'quiet enjoyment.' This deals with noise along with other things.

    As far as your condo question; an hoa can make any rules they want as long as they do not violate other law. They should have specific procedures for how they add rules. see if they followed them.
  • Sun, Jan 11 2009 2:56 PM In reply to

    re: Condo by-laws & noise...

    "Can a condo board and association change by-laws like that?"

    What do the rules say about changing by-laws?

    "It seems to me that when a buyer becomes owner of a condo they do so with the knowledge of pre-existing by-laws."

    Except that you can't really expect that situations won't come up; would nothing change in 5, 10, 20 years that needed addressing?

    "If those laws get changed after buying into something they can't observe, then the buyer/owner is now stuck in a situation where they are suddenly liable."

    One can always move if they can't abide by the rules; it's not the condo association's fault that times are tough now.

    Why can't you keep the music down when most people are sleeping? Are you in a rock band? If it's a problem, you really should live where your night noise won't disturb sleeping people, which is what MOST are doing from 2 am to 6am. There should be plenty of distance between your noise and the nearest home...as Cygnusx says, "quiet enjoyment" isn't being had by the neighbors.

    "Don't condo owners buy in with full knowledge they are entering a physical building where uncontrollable noise will occur?"

    Not loud music from 2-6am. THAT'S 'controllable". Even apartment dwellers, who also have close neighbors, have to abide by noise ordinances so as not to disturb neighbors unnecessarily.

    "So if noise is something they are very sensitive to, they should not buy a condo?"

    This could be turned around on you; if not willing to be sensitive to close neighbors, should you not buy a condo?

    BTW, not wanting to listen to someone else's music all night while trying to sleep is NOT being overly-sensitive...it is the majority's way of life to sleep at night. If YOU are different, it's up to you to accommodate yourself without keeping others up.
  • Sun, Jan 11 2009 9:22 PM In reply to

    Question [=?] re: Condo by-laws & noise...

    First of all, thank for the thoughtful replies. Second, while one replier assumed I was the source of noise, that hasn't been the case, at least not so far.

    I actually own a commercial unit in the condo, not a residential unit. I bought my first floor store-front unit about 3 years ago. At that time the unit was occupied by a tenant pizza shop business. They eventually defaulted on their lease. So I took possession and spent about 2 years gutting and then building my own restaurant in it. The space was zoned for a restaurant and has historically always been a restaurant or bar, even before the condo was created. This 3-story masonry building is over 100 years old.

    I have invested a huge amount of money (for me) in the purchase and build-out. My concern is that at some time, I may fall out of grace with the rest of the condo owners. If so, who's to say they can't make some change to the by-laws prohibiting my kind of business. During the planning and build-out, I did everything I could physically to be able to operate w/o disturbing my neighbors. But restaurants can be loud and customers that are coming and going can be even more loud. It's impossible to control that kind of noise. I suggest the same in some cases for the residental units. For example, who can control who pushes the wrong buzzer in the middle of the night? This building is located in a very well known restaurant and club district. It's not as rowdy as say the French Quarter, but there's a lot of nightlife on a typical weekend and even during the week.

    Since my unit is zoned for restaurant/bar use, and since my construction was permitted, inspected, and approved by the city, will I always have rights to operate as a typical restaurant and bar operates? Can the condo board take those rights away? How should I deal with neighbors that complain about vibrations? I've already received a few of those kinds of compliants. I can only do so much to address and remedy them.

    So far, we typically close up before midnight, but what if I wanted to extend my hours?

    These are the kinds of issues I was concerned about when I first posted. Just wanted to clarify that. Thanks again!
  • Mon, Jan 12 2009 2:36 AM In reply to

    • anon3
    • Top 100 Contributor
    • Joined on Wed, Mar 15 2000
    • Posts 528

    re: Condo by-laws & noise...

    Be careful about getting those hours grandfathered in. You might seriously consider reading the rules and regs and state law, the incorporation papers, ccrs, bylaws, and talk to a good corporation attorney--NOT one associated with Community Associations Institute-they are very anti homeowner, They support boards and management companies.
    One thing you can try to do is get on the board yourself to help control aat least somewhat what happens--but, it didn't work in my case...

    If you can, I would suggest extending the hours now to the legal limits, so they might have a somewhat harder time passing laws against you, but who knows.
    What happens if you go out of business, and leave? Is your place, as a commercial unit, paying more dues than residential units?
    Are those newly passed laws recorded at the city/county level? If not, they may be unenforcable.
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